Jumping the gun on its much larger rivals, Casa Systems has come out with an integrated, high-density chassis that meets the specs of the cable industry's next-gen Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) architecture.
Casa, a brash young firm based in the Boston suburbs, said its new C100G chassis will enable cable operators to deploy MPEG video, IP video and DOCSIS data services over a single port for the first time. The chassis aims to accomplish this by combining the features and functions of the cable modem termination system (CMTS) and the edge QAM modulator in a single device housed in the cable headend, as defined by the industry's still-evolving CCAP specs.
Specifically, the C100G, an upgraded version of Casa's current C10G CMTS chassis, consists of three modules -- a downstream module (DS8X96) that can deliver 96 video channels (64 broadcast and 32 narrowcast), a switching module (SMM8X10) and an upstream module (US16X4). Casa officials said the new chassis can house up to 11 of the downstream modules, enabling it to support more than 8,000 downstream channels.
"The C10G is very dense but the C100G is the ultimate," said Mark Sumner, VP of marketing for Casa, noting that the C10G can now support up to four downstream modules. "This chassis should carry us for quite a few years."
Casa officials said the C100G chassis will also be compatible with new, even higher density modules that they are now developing. They declined to give out specifics but indicated that the new release should come out before the end of the year.
The introduction of the C100G, which Casa will demonstrate with great fanfare at next month's Cable Show in Washington, D.C., puts the vendor first in the race to develop an integrated CCAP chassis. Bigger competitors such as Cisco Systems, Arris, Harmonic and CommScope are also working feverishly to build integrated CCAP devices. (See Sizing Up the CCAP Players.)
But all four equipment makers are months, if not years, behind Casa in their integrated device development efforts. As a result, each vendor is now promoting some type of modular, two-device approach centered on either a high-density CMTS or a high-density edge QAM, as an interim step before the eventual release of its integrated solution.
"In the end, they will all have integrated CCAP products," Sumner said. "We've done it today; we went straight to the integrated."
Although it trails well behind the other four players in the CMTS and edge QAM markets, Casa is counting on its first mover advantage to carve out a significant chunk of the still-emerging CCAP market. Industry analysts like Multimedia Research Group have estimated that the global market for CCAP gear could scale to $1 billion by 2017, as cable operators seek to boost broadband bandwidth and upgrade to all-IP technology with new headend equipment while simultaneously slashing space requirements and power costs in the congested headend. (See CCAP Sales to Top $1B by 2017.)
Casa executives said they have started deploying the C100G chassis in "live field trials" or lab trials with at least two MSOs in North America and Europe that are also testing the company's DS8X96 downstream modules, following a series of earlier lab trials. But they declined to disclose the MSOs. Casa's most prominent cable customers currently are Liberty Global Inc. and Numericable in Europe, Mediacom Communications Corp. in the U.S. and Shenzhen Topway Video Communication in China.
By the end of the year, Sumner said he hopes that Casa will be shipping products in volume to at least one North American customer and one European customer. Besides North America and Europe, he said cable operators in Latin America and Asia are also showing stronger interest in the company's CCAP offerings.
"The whole CCAP has taken on a life of its own," he said. "I'm pretty optimistic about it."
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading